David Monrad Johansen and Johan Kvandal’s piano concertos have a virtuous flight, energy and are powerful masterpieces. The two composers were father and son, and both succeeding residence at the same property at Gyssestadkollen in Bærum. That complicated their relationship, but musically they had a lot in common.
Monrad Johansen wrote his Piano concert in E flat, opus 29 to the pianist Jan Henrik Kayser, and it had it’s premiere in the middle of the 50s. Kvandal wrote his Piano concerto opus 85 at the end of his life. The last movement was completed in the autumn 1998, and thereby became the last work he did before suddenly passing away in Winter 1999.
The pianist Håvard Gimse was a driving force and encouraged Kvandal during the whole composing process. According to Kvandal’s sceptisism, it was no matter of course that he would be able to finish the concerto. He paused after the second movement, but after several encouragements from Gimse he continued, and the third movement came into place.
Recording both concerts is a pianistic accomplishment by Håvard Gimse. However, it is raised above any doubt that with these, Norwegian piano literature has been enriched by two works which deserve a prominent position. It is eventful and thoroughly good music. Both composers know how to exploit the solist qualities of the piano, and it swings invigoratingly between the emotional extremes, like they in both concerts are embodied in the tension between the outer movement and the slow middle movements. With this recorrding, Gimse documents that he is a top level performer, and also a outstanding executioner of Norwegian music.
The Oslo Philharmonic performs energetic under the direction of Christian Eggen, both during Monrad Johansen’s piano concert and the orchestral work Pan, as well as under Kristian Ruud’s direction during Kvandal’s piano concert. Both conductors arise the co-performers’ response and thereby procuring impressing results.
All in all it is possible to discover new aspects, and the best: This is Norwegian quality music.
by Idar Karevold, Aftenposten, 29.09. 2008